Rise Up To Defend Our Democracy, National Peace Committee Tells Nigerians
The National Peace Committee (NPC) has called on Nigerians to put the disappointment of the postponement of the general elections behind them and respond to the call to patriotism when the elections eventually hold.
It made a call in a statement jointly signed by its Chairman, former Head of State General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), and Convener, Bishop Mathew Kukah.
“We understand your right to feel disappointed by INEC. However, we appeal to you all to see this as a watershed in the life of our fledgling Democracy. The only way we can ensure a steady Democracy is for us to learn the lessons from these sad developments,” the statement read in part.
“Therefore, we appeal to you not to count the cost of the setback, but respond to the call to patriotism. Do not relent, go out and fulfil your duty to your family and country on Election Day. We will soon turn the corner in hope. Rather than despair, rise up to defend our Democracy.”
The postponement of the election by a week had attracted widespread criticism. But with so much blames already traded, the NPC believes the nation must show faith.
It said, “There is enough blame to pass around. The real challenge now is for us as a nation, to reach out to the deepest instincts of faith in God and our country. We must put everything aside and see this as a battle that all of us must win. The challenge is not who to sacrifice, but what sacrifice to make.”
Also, the committee called on politicians to look beyond the struggle for power, show character and grace and work with the Independent National Electoral Commission “to inspire our people to new heights”.
“The challenge before you goes beyond the narrowness of political opportunities. This is not time to trade blames or to incite your supporters. Be temperate in your language so that we do not inadvertently set up our people for violence,” the NPC said.
As for INEC, the National Peace Committee challenged it to work toward reclaiming its integrity.
To do that, the committee urged the electoral body to “patiently continue to focus on attaining internal cohesion and coordination”.
“Do not give room to external enemies to infiltrate and destroy the confidence and trust that your organisation has earned,” it added.
Read the full statement below:
NIGERIANS: RISE UP AND OBEY THE NATION’S CALL
STATEMENT BY THE NATIONAL PEACE COMMITTEE
1: We have a common saying in Nigeria: God’s time is the best. However, in real life, certain experiences often tempt us to pause and ask whether this statement need to be edited. This is one of such moments.
However, we must remain hopeful because God is perfect and all knowing. We are humans, He is the God of history and all power belongs to Him alone. He will give to whom He wishes, how and when He wishes. We are merely instruments of His plans. It is against this background that we wish to appeal to our fellow citizens.
2: We recall that two days to the elections, specifically on February 13th, 2019, the President, Alhaji Muhammadu Buhari, other Presidential candidates of the different parties gathered at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, to sign a second Peace Accord. Distinguished members of the international community such as the Commonwealth Secretary General, Rt. Honourable Patricia Scotland, QC, four former African Heads of State (Festus Mogae (Malawi), Ellen Sirleaf Johnson, Professor Amos Sawyer, (Liberia), Jakaya Kikwete (Tanzania) some of our own distinguished citizens, such as General Yakubu Gowon, our former Head of State, distinguished Religious and Traditional rulers, members of the general public from all walks of life witnessed the event with joy and hope.
3: On Friday 15th, February, we all went to bed joyfully and anxiously looking forward to casting our votes for the next President of our country. However, nothing could have prepared anyone for the shock announcement by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, barely six hours to the elections in the morning of February 16th. Although, the Chairman of INEC, Professor Mahmood Yakubu has already addressed the nation and the leaders of all the Political Parties, very little has happened to assuage the deep feeling of embarrassment, pain, and disappointment across the land. The impact of this decision has permeated every stratum of our lives and has the potential to dampen the confidence of our people in the political process. It has further deepened anxieties within the international community about our country.
4: There is enough blame to pass around. The real challenge now is for us as a nation, to reach out to the deepest instincts of faith in God and our country. We must put everything aside and see this as a battle that all of us must win. The challenge is not who to sacrifice, but what sacrifice to make. We therefore make the following appeal to our people:
5: To all Nigerians:
We understand your right to feel disappointed by INEC. However, we appeal to you all to see this as a watershed in the life of our fledging Democracy. The only way we can ensure a steady Democracy is for us to learn the lessons from these sad developments. Therefore, we appeal to you not to count the cost of the set back, but respond to the call to patriotism. Do not relent, go out and fulfill your duty to your family and country on Election Day. We will soon turn the corner in hope. Rather than despair, rise up to defend our Democracy.
6: To the Political Class:
What we have before us is well beyond the struggle for power. Our predicament calls for character and grace. The Politicians must own this process by showing their readiness to collaborate with INEC and to inspire our people to new heights. The challenge before you goes beyond the narrowness of political opportunities. This is not time to trade blames or to incite your supporters. Be temperate in your language so that we do not inadvertently set up our people for violence. Sadly, for us, politics of the last few years have further polarized our people along dangerous religious, regional, ethnic and party lines. We must aim at trying to avert this precipice and try to heal our nation.
7: To the Independent National Electoral Commission:
After trying to explain your situation, it is now important to focus on how best to reclaim your credibility and integrity. Patiently continue to focus on attaining internal cohesion and coordination. Do not give room to external enemies to infiltrate and destroy the confidence and trust that your organisation has earned. Avoid panic measures, continue to communicate effectively with Nigerians and build up your confidence. Listen to the politicians but do not be distracted. Perhaps, just perhaps, your being accused by both sides might be your vindication. You might still be vindicated in the end. Focus on the big picture.
8: To our international Visitors and Observers:
We appreciate the sacrifices that you have made to come to Nigeria to monitor our elections. We see your engagement with us not as an act of interference but as the extension of the hand of friendship and encouragement. With your co-operation and encouragement, we will deepen our political culture and turn Democracy into a tool for development and progress for our people. We know it is a long road and we are prepared to walk it to the end. We understand the emotional and financial strain that this has placed on you. We appeal to the relevant Agencies in our government to kindly facilitate the visa processes of our guests at no cost and with the least inconveniences.
9: A Prayer for Nigeria:
We thank God for the gift of this great country. We know that our selfishness and greed have delayed our march to greatness. We commit our country to you at this very delicate and difficult time. Take control of all the relevant agencies in this election and let your will be done. We know that you are a perfect God and that in the end, may your will be done. We commit the future into your hands. Save us from further violence and bloodshed. Forgive our many sins. We believe that your time is the best for us.
General Abdusalami A. Abubakar, GCFR,
Bishop Matthew Hassan KUKAH
Fr. Atta Barkindo
Head of Secretariat
National Peace Committee, NPC